Among China’s newest tanks, the Type 96 is said to have the largest number, around 2,000.
China is a country with a remarkable ability to make its own tanks. Type 96 can be considered a far away descendant of the soviet T-54A, copied by China under license as the Type 59, then gradually improved over the years as Type 69/79, followed by Type 80, Type 88, and eventually Type 96 and its export version – the Type 85.
The Type 96 entered service with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1997. The Type 96 is a second-generation tank, but its later variants are considered as near-equivalents to China’s third generation MBT.
According to tanks-encyclopedia, Type 96 was developed on the basis of the Type 85. Its hull is made of RHA welded steel, with a light recess to the rear to artificially increase the glacis front angle.
The hull sides are almost slab-sided overall, the general configuration does not change compared to previous models. The driver is located on the left hand side, with his own one-piece, rear-opening hatch and three periscopes covering the frontal arc.
The vehicle weighs 42.8 tons, 6.33m in length, 3.45m in width, and 2.30m in height. Type 96 is equipped with an automatic loader, giving the crew only 3 people: Commander, Gunner and Driver.
The Type 96 tank is powered by a 12150ZL type V-12 cylinder water-cooled turbocharged diesel engine, produces 730 hp.
This main battle tank can reach a top speed of 65 km/h, a maximum road range of 400 km, which is extended to 600 km by adding external fuel tanks. Vehicle can be fitted with a deep wading kit.
Type 96 MBT is equipped with a fully-stabilized 125 mm smoothbore gun, fitted with an autoloader. Both the gun and the automatic loader were copied from the Soviet T-72. It can be compatible with a wide range of ammunition compatible with Russian T-72 stocks, HEAT, HE, APFSDS, but also the Russian AT-11 Sniper gun-launched anti-tank guided missiles, or its Chinese copy. Maximum rate of fire is 6-8 rounds per minute. A total of 42 rounds are carried.
The secondary armament was, as usual, a coaxial 7.62 mm, and a heavy 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounted around the command cupola.
Although it is only a second generation tank, the Chinese tanks are said to be quite sophisticated, extremely modern and suitable for many combat environments.
|Armor||Type 96: Composite armor (classified) Type 96A: Modular applique armor and FY-4 ERA plates on hull front|
|125 mm smoothbore gun, capable of firing ATGMs and depleted uranium rounds|
|7.62 mm coaxial machine gun|
12.7 mm air-defence machine gun
780 hp (582 kW)
|Maximum speed||65 km/h|